ECR, also known as East Coast Road is a Tamil Nadu State Highway (SH 49) connecting the capital city Chennai with India’s southernmost tip Kanyakumari. The road stretches for around 15 kilometers within the boundaries of Chennai itself, before passing to other districts.
This road plays a vital role in the lives of many Chennai dwellers, especially youngsters, as it runs across one of the major IT corridors of India. Apart from work, this road is used for tourism and entertainment. A number of beach resorts, restaurants, and theme parks were studded along the path even before the construction and extension of ECR. This highly supports tourism as the windy trail, breezy seashore and multi-cuisine food options create spaces for fun and entertainment.
Along the highway
The ECR begins from Thiruvanmiyur, a busy locality of Chennai. From there on, the road passes through several villages and fishing hamlets which are now under plans of massive development. Simple farm villages and fishing hamlets along ECR and adjacent OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road) are constantly getting transformed into luxurious apartments and townships, thanks to the IT companies situated alongside.
Amidst massive constructions along the bay, ECR still offers a peaceful ride and serene beauty to its visitors. Notable points to pause and reflect are – Muttukkadu boathouse, Dhakshina Chitra, Kovalam beach and the Pallava icon point – Mamallapuram.
This backwater lake offers good opportunities for water sports lovers at affordable costs. Speed boats and rowboats carry tourists and glide across the lake. Bordered by viewpoints and restaurants, Muttukkadu boathouse must be on top of the list of ECR riders.
Next on the list is Dhakshina Chitra – a heritage museum which exhibits model houses from south Indian villages. The area is divided into 4 main regions – one for each south Indian state. Inside every state section, it contains traditional houses and properties depicting their lifestyle. A Tamil potter’s house, a Malayali medicinal spa, a Telugu farmer’s house and a Kannada stone house etc are a few peculiar exhibits unique to each south Indian state. A visit to Dhakshina Chitra will take our memories a few centuries back.
Kovalam beach (also known as Covelong)
Kovalam is a popular beach along ECR which attracts tourists and local visitors. The history of this fishing hamlet dates back to the era of Carnatic nawabs and colonial times where French, Dutch and British rulers have left their imprints. Hence the name Kovalam faced a slight English modulation – Covelong. The beach also stands as a symbol of religious unity as it hosts a church, temple, and darga (shrine).
Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram is a feast for history lovers and a visual treat for artists and photographers. Being a UNESCO heritage site, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions of south India. This site hosts historical monuments dating back from the 7th century onwards. The region was ruled by Pallavas as they used the town as a seaport. Literary sources depict Mamallapuram as a point where large ships, carrying expensive foreign goods, hit the shore. Though a few structures are damaged over time, the standing remains exhibit architectural intelligence of Pallavas. Temples, rock monuments and caves sing the glory of Tamil rulers and their culture.
Apart from being a busy south Indian city, Chennai also offers many relax points and a ride along ECR is one of them. One will definitely enjoy a day drive along ECR pausing by its various beach attractions.